“Kanyaga mafuta!” Vrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! The back wheels spun defiantly in the muddy pool splattering faces, limbs and digging deeper trenches.
“One – two – three” one man rallied “Sukuma!’ the air filled with masculine groans of muted strength; no one wanted their masculinity mocked. Everyone had to be fine, strong and in great shape despite having been at it for the past 3 hours.
But there was one man, Harith, who wasn’t concerned at all about people’s opinion of his masculinity. After 15 minutes of attempting to assist the rest he opted to take a walk to the local town centre they had passed on their way. And returned with a helping of hot Ugali, roast chicken and managu, washing it down with the an ice cold Tusker. No one had even noticed him wolfing down his meal. It was after 2 hours of pushing that the sound of the spinning stuck wheels ceased to the earth shattering burp. They all turned looking like muddy zombies from the underworld.
There Harith sat shamelessly with chicken bones strewn on the ground beneath him, fingers caked in dry ugali and sprawled in satisfaction on the dry patch of grass across the road. Now happily basking in the sun.
Harith was busy soaking in the sun to notice that that statement was directed at him.
“Chief!” The bellowing base drew closer. Still Harith did nothing.
“Eish! Chief!” The voice now bellowed above him, with a huge shadow cast upon him blocking out the sun. Harith lifted his head and looked into the blood red eyes. He was startled and sat upright.
“You think you are the only one who can eat eeee?” Harith nodded in agreement involuntarily.
“Oh! Really?” The towering beast asked almost to clarify what he saw. Harith quickly shook his head to disagree with his earlier gesture. It was too late. His toothpick frame was hoisted by the beastly man and tossed straight into the mud where the van was stuck.
“Wacha asukume sasa!” The man instructed the rest to let Harith do the dirty work.
“Twende tuka munch pia sisi.” And the 15 men walked away leaving Harith to do all the work. Harith stood there staring at the van and then at the men whose backs were now turned to him heading toward the same town centre he had returned from. Harith stared at the van again and then walked on to the road to see how far away he was from another town centre in the area. There was none, not even a grass thatched hut for at least a kilometer. He sat on the dirt road his heart racing, sweat beads forming on his forehead, below his lower lip, neck and chest. He was panicking.
He saw the size of those men, he knew he had to be in the same van with them, he just like the rest, had paid for this trip and needed to get to his destination as much as the rest. But there was no way on earth that he was going to pull the van out of the mud by himself. Harith’s thoughts were pleasantly disrupted by the buzzing sound of a motorbike. It was an 80cc engine. He looked up and emerged from the thigh deep muddy hole on the road’s shoulder and onto the dirt road. He flagged the bike down.
Before he said anything the man on the bike laughed, “You also fell for that again? You town people…when do you ever learn?” The bike rider remarked. Every time there was an offer to see the famous Rurigi village, said to be the location where the gods turned the entire village to stone, people create different routes so that motorists with the thirst for more scenic routes can instead take detours to easily manage the influx of guests. And this particular route was the ‘showstopper’ with some taking up to three days to move from that spot.
“Three days!” Harith was in awe, a smirk began to build on his face.
“Yes….one…two…three days!’ the rider gestured with his fingers. “Need a ride?”
Harith gestured with his hand for the rider to wait a second. He quickly waded back into the mud into the van took his luggage and waded out.
“Twende!” and just like that Harith left hoping that the rest will show up at the site once his three day tour had expired. Harith however forgot one thing. The bellowing beast was his boss. Harith may have won this battle, but he was sure to lose the war.